Monday, February 15, 2010

Filled February Continues...

I like themes. Always have. Some can be great, like theme parties (Luau's are a favorite). Sometimes they can be terrible, like theme restaurants (Planet Hollywood needs to go away. Forever.) And of course, who didn't love discussing the themes of a novel in English class (man's struggles against nature are universal). So I've decided to give my baking for the month a theme. And in honor of February being the month for lovers, I've decided to dub this month FILLED FEBRUARY, wherein all the things I make will have a filling or be filled with some kind of deliciousness. 
I've already made some lemon bars that I shared here. Recently I picked up some heart-shaped cookie cutters and decided to make some V-day inspired treats. Over at the smitten kitchen (which has quickly become my favorite foodie blog), I found a recipe for toasted coconut shortbread hearts that sounded lovely. But because I can't leave anything alone, I played with the recipe, cut out little windows, spread some jam on them,  and made some linzer-style treats that made Ken do his little cookie dance of joy. 
The dough is very simple, and was easily made vegan. Like all shortbread I've come across it's a little difficult to work with, and required lots of powdered sugar to roll out as well as several trips to the freezer to keep it chilled. Since Philadelphia was PARALYZED with white stuff, I had all the time in the world to play around and get covered in the other white stuff. (I'm talking about powdered sugar, people. Don't give me that look.) 
With a little love and a lot of patience the results were quite tasty. So tasty that only 6 of them made it out of the house. (Ken, I'm looking at you.) We're talking: Crunchy, slightly chewy, mildly sweet, a little salty and with that dreamy hint of toasted coconut hiding in the background. 
These cookies are great for blizzards, SNOWMAGEDDON, and any other time you're stuck in the house for a few days. And oh so nice to share with someone you love! And when you're snowed in with someone you love and Valentine's day is oh so close, well, who knows what can happen? (October babies?) Here's hoping this Valentine's day finds you filled... with love. ;-)
Coconut Linzer Cookies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup toasted coconut (I used sweetened, if you use unsweetened, increase the sugar a bit and cut back on the salt)
3/4 cup earth balance buttery sticks
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
about 1 cup jam of choice
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until coconut is light golden, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Cool completely, then grind in a coffee grinder, food processor or blender until coarsely ground.
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Mix in salt and vanilla. Beat in flour in 2 additions. Stir in toasted coconut. Gather dough together, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough disk on lightly floured work surface to scant 1/4-inch thickness (I used confectioner's sugar). Using 2-inch-diameter cookie cutters, cut dough into hearts. Using a smaller heart cutter, cut out "window" in half of cookies. 
Bake cookies until light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. 
Place jam in small saucepan on medium heat and stir occasionally. Once jam is warmed and thinned, spoon a tsp onto cooled cookie without window, bottom up, spreading jam out. Place cookie with window on top, bottom down, pressing down slightly so filling spreads. Let stand until jam cools and sets. Give your hearts to someone you love! (Insert groan for cheezy joke here.)

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